Friday, 28 October 2016

Slavonian Grebe at Deeping High Bank, Lincolnshire

This winter plumaged bird was present at the Deeping High Bank last weekend and represents my 223rd bird species seen in the recording area of the Peterborough Bird Club (PBC). Seen fishing on several occasions and being successful in those attempts probably around a third of the time. The bird was gone on Tuesday morning.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Siberian Accentor at Easington, East Yorkshire

Some of you may have read about this bird in the press. Never seen before in the U.K., up until a few weeks ago when one turned up on Shetland. That particular bird was out of my league, the serious twitchers went for it and for a couple of days it entertained. It then disappeared. For those people that saw the bird feelings of elation ensued, imagining that they had seen a once in a lifetime bird. Those feelings changed somewhat a week ago when another turned up on the East Yorkshire coast near Spurn point at the village of Easington. A massive twitch ensued, thousands of birders queued to get a glimpse of this rare bird from the East. Due to other commitments, I couldn't go and so had to put up with images all over the internet of this cousin of 'our' common Dunnock and people who say that they aren't twitchers and can't abide twitching, actually twitching.

Tuesday dawned wet and miserable. One customer cancelled me due to the weather, then another. Suddenly a day had opened up and the bird was still present, I had to go for it. My friend and usual partner in crime Chris Orders was unfortunately unavailable and so I rang anther friend Mike Weedon, who agreed to accompany me, even though he had already been on Saturday, such was the draw of this 'painted' Dunnock. We made good time, arriving at lunch time and made our way to the birds' haunt. Now, up until that afternoon the bird had been frequenting an old school car park, with an open vista and unobstructed views, but of course when I turned up the bird had moved. Instead of clear views over a chain link fence the bird had to be watched through a rather tall double metal fence with inch square holes in between thick wire, not ideal. 'Sibby' was seen, however and showed very well, constantly on the move and more often obscured by weeds and sycamore saplings than not.

As of today this particular Siberian Accentor seems to have moved on, but the U.K. now has at least 6 of these birds on its' record books and more are piling up on the not so distant continent. So, if you see an odd looking Dunnock in your garden, particularly if you live in the East of the country, you never know, it just could be one these birds.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Curlew Sandpipers at Frampton Marsh RSPB, Lincolnshire

A few weeks ago there were over 250 of these lovely waders at nearby Frampton Marsh. There are normally a few of these birds that turn up at various sites around the east every year, including Frampton, but I can't remember ever hearing of 250+. A real jewel in the RSPB, this site seems to be only watched by the locals and doesn't attract the numbers that Titchwell and Minsmere do, for whatever reason.

Josh Jones has written a very good article on Frampton Marsh, which can be found here.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Spoonbill at Alkborough Flats, Lincolnshire

You can just make out the yellow patch on the birds' throat. I think that this is the remnants of breeding plumage

This adult Spoonbill was the only photographed bird yesterday on my twitch to see the Western Swamphen that has been frequenting the reed beds and marshes of Alkborough Flats in north Lincolnshire for the past couple of weeks. 'Swampy' was seen, after 6 hours on site, but at a distance of over half a mile and so photography was not an option. It made a nice change to see a Spoonbill without its' head tucked firmly under its' wing and therefore to see its' spatula shaped bill, or should that be spoon-shaped?

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Willow Emerald Damselfly at Kings Dyke NR, Cambridgeshire

Note the obvious 'spur' marking on the thorax. A key feature of this species

You can just about make out the pale wing spots, or pterostigma, another key feature

A damselfly with very few 20th century records in the U.K., but first seen in regular numbers in Suffolk in 2009. This species has been steadily moving eastwards over the past few years and has now been sighted in the Peterborough area on at least two occasions, one of which being the sighting that I had at Kings Dyke nature reserve a few weeks ago.

Not being a dragonfly or damselfly expert, I quite happily took the above photos without realising the importance of the sighting, or what species I was actually photographing. I knew it was an emerald type damselfly because of the colour of the individual, but it wasn't until I looked at the photos in greater detail and cross referencing with my dragonfly field guide, that I realised the individual was a Willow Emerald Damselfly (I think a female). A new species for the reserve and only the second in the Peterborough area, with the first being a week previous to mine.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Black Hairstreak at Glapthorn Cow Pastures, Northants

The Black Hairstreak is a very localised little butterfly with a distribution which is restricted to about 45 colonies in the South and East Midlands and with having a flight period of just a few weeks makes it an elusive little creature. There are a couple of sites near me where this butterfly can be found, but until yesterday I had failed in my attempts to see one. Glapthorn Cow Pastures is a Wildlife Trust site near Oundle and is nationally known for having a colony of the Black Hairstreak, indeed people have travelled from the other end of the country to see one. The flight period is coming to the end now and so we were extremely lucky in seeing at least 5 individual butterflies still looking in pretty good nick, apart from one that was very tatty.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Brown Bear in Lentiira, Finland

Have just got back from a weekend in North East Finland, close to the border with Russia. This was primarily to try and see if we could get views of the wild Brown Bears that frequent the forests there, but also to see other wildlife that we were told was found in good numbers in the area. We stayed in the Wild Brown Bear Lodge that is situated close to the town of Lentiira, in a very picturesque setting by a lake and in the middle of the forest. Unfortunately, the only wildlife that seemed to be in abundance were the mosquitoes, millions of them, and despite being caked in mosquito repellent, wearing protective bands and covered from head to toe, the whole group succeeded in being bitten to 'buggery'! We did, however see a couple of brown bears, including the one in the above photos.

Now, something that I dislike with a lot of wildlife watching and it seems to be extremely prevalant where mammals are concerned is the naming of these magnificent beasts. Don't get me wrong, I know why it's done, but it just stinks of anthropomorphology to me. This bear could easily be called 'A1' or some such thing to differentiate him from others, but instead he is known as 'Brutus', a fitting name for one of the largest (250kg +) and oldest (20 yrs) bears in the forest, but I still prefer 'A1'. He was seen after 12 hours in a hide and was quite a magnificent sight as he moved logs that 2 men would struggle with as if they were matchsticks. Always wary for such a large animal, but brilliant views were had until something spooked him and he was off!

More photos will follow, although I am disappointed with all of them.